SCOTUS. The Supreme Court Of The United States. That’s how it’s been since I can remember and I’m a senior citizen now. Currently their are six GOP appointed Justices on the Court and if SCOTUS wreaked some havoc prior to Trump, it was just a warmup. Sure, they’ve made some rulings in recent years Trump hasn’t liked but they’ve also backed him often and when it mattered most. Yesterday, when it REALLY mattered they backed him “Bigly” in the opinion of many. In doing so I think they’ve unofficially declared our old understanding of the SCOTUS acronym no longer holds. Instead it’s revealing itself to be SCOTUSOM – (the) Supreme Court Of Trump’s United States Of MAGA.  For the record if anyone thinks substituting the word Ugly for United is better I’m cool with it. Or other edits that capture the sentiment if you like. Feel free to make suggestions.

I went off on a rant yesterday and I even read a “settle down folks” piece from someone I highly respect which is Politizoom’s very own Murfster. As two old farts who suffered through literally decades, a lifetime for many people of Cubs fan misery with all the high hopes and crushed dreams we are kindred spirits in that and other ways. I was actually about to go off on another rant but after reading his piece I chose to sleep on it, work on some other things today and listen to/read more commentary.

Starting with some initial reaction yesterday reported by Crooks & Liars which included the thoughts of an excellent MSNBC legal analyst (Lisa Rubin) in response/addition to retired federal appeals judge Michael Luttig who’s commentary was sobering in and of itself. As the article puts it:

Rubin got the last word. Her voice sounding as if it were about to break, she talked about “watching a building that I love” get “plundered” on January 6, 2021. “I think about what the judge is saying now and the intellectual underpinnings of the MAGA movement, and thinking about what that could look like, and I am beyond terrified, Nicolle, right now, for our country.”

She continued:

Rubin said she had hoped and believed that there would be enough justices to merely affirm the lower court ruling without taking the case. “If there was a context in which you wanted to decide the bounds of presidential immunity, it’s not this case,” she added.

See for yourself what both had to say:

If the embed doesn’t play I’m providing a link that should take you to it here:  https://crooksandliars.com/cltv/2024/02/implications-scotus-immunity-case-are

Murf may well be correct about SCOTUS cutting the amount of delay Trump had intended to game out of the system in half. However, the end result is the same. I still think they have, or at least will by slow walking issuing a decision like they did with scheduling oral arguments wind up doing exactly what Trump wanted, and in fact expected “His Justices” to do. Prevent the case from going to trial before the election. Still, after the better part of 24 hours to reflect on things and after reading an OpEd in the L.A. Times by legal expert Harry Litman I agree with the premise he uses in his headline:

Without even ruling on Trump’s immunity claim, the Supreme Court handed him a huge victory

I urge you to take a couple of minutes to read Litman’s piece I linked to above. It lays out the substance of what happened yesterday, plausible reasoning as to why and what the timeline ahead is likely to be. Including the problem of getting a trial going much less a verdict prior to the election. Harry Litman is far smarter and more knowledgeable on this stuff than I ever could hope to be. However, despite his credentials I’m not so certain of how this group of GOP Justices will ultimately rule. Before getting into why, let me note how he concluded his OpEd:

In the long run, therefore, the court’s decision probably won’t excuse Trump from accountability for his traitorous conduct on the merits. His outlandish claim of absolute presidential immunity will almost certainly fail, and even a recognition of limited immunity for official acts will not keep him from facing justice.

But that’s in the long run. For now, Trump is likely pleased with a result that again delays justice and, if his political gamble on a return to the White House pays off, will allow him to escape it altogether.

I want to turn to the first part of that, because Litman echoes what quite a few others, even Rubin have been saying. Basically, the prevailing wisdom is that SCOTUS wouldn’t dream of actually buying any of the legal bullshit Trump’s peddling? That no SCOTUS is THAT crazy. To which I say Really?

Note that scene was set in the freaking Oval Office. But getting back to reality let’s take a trip down memory lane at things “SCOTUS would never actually do” but did:

Bush v Gore. They literally stopped the counting of ballots in a razor thin race in the state of Florida, effectively handing the Presidency to George W. Bush. (More on that later)

District of Columbia v Heller. This one came down after Roberts became Chief Justice, a position he wouldn’t have had without Bush v Gore. In his majority opinion Scalia “qualified” that in overturning the DC law Heller challenged the Court wasn’t saying there couldn’t be reasonable regulation of firearms. Sure. Despite numerous lower court rulings upholding local gun restriction laws in the years after the courts, thanks to the NRA and others were flooded with challenges, leading to:

McDonald v City of Chicago which came about as a result of Heller and overturned Chicago’s gun ban. (Justice Stevens would later say it was the worst ruling during his tenure on the Court and called for a Constitutional amendment to fix the problem the Court had created) That in turn led to:

New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v Bruen in New York state which established a Constitutional right to carry a pistol in public. Bear in mind that while all this was going on two other things were happening. The NRA was well into working with numerous state legislatures to weaken and even overturn gun laws, while at the same time working with manufacturers to flood the country with guns. Including and especially military style assault weapons. Weapons of war. I don’t have to list all the carnage for you. And it all goes back to the tortured legal logic Scalia created to justify the Heller ruling.

People, experts even didn’t think the Court would “go there” but damn if they didn’t do just that and stand by or even back up the increasing gun violence and deaths that have overwhelmed this country.  You want more? How about this?

Citizens United v FEC. This one took the 1976 Buckley v Valeo ruling known as the “money is speech” case and put it on steroids.  It’s “corporations are people” (too) principle unleashed the flood of money, including dark money into our politics and elections that have done incalculable damage. Surely when the case was being heard and deliberated SCOTUS wouldn’t wipe out ALL attempts to control election spending. Well, they did.

Burwell v Hobby Lobby. This one was also a doozy. Experts opined surely the Court wouldn’t grant the kind of sweeping “liberty” Hobby Lobby (and other “Christian” businesses that supposedly served the public) the ability to discriminate based on their religious beliefs. But they did, and predictably it got personal. Even in businesses like chain store pharmacies with policies saying otherwise we’ve had people behind the counter refuse to fill certain prescriptions based on their own personal exception to things like the abortion pill, or even birth control pills. It was all soooo predictable.

I could keep going but you get the point by now. (No, I sure as hell haven’t forgotten Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization. I’ll get to it) Conservative judges and Justices will come up with all manner of tortured legal “logic” to justify a bullshit ruling. Hell, when they can’t find something they can twist like a pretzel they’d even make stuff up! Given history, don’t try and tell me that there might not be at least five Federalist Society Fascists on this Court ready, able and willing if not eager to create OUT OF NOTHING a “Presidential right of Immunity.”

Ok, they might try to narrowly tailor it so that it can only apply to Trump’s current predicament. They might even try the stunt the Rehnquist Court tried with Bush v Gore and its extraordinary line about the decision being unique to that case and its circumstances ONLY and NOT to be taken as or used as precedent. It of course has NOT stopped other conservatives in other cases from citing it in legal filings including appeals. As precedent.

I want you to keep something else in mind. People are now well aware that it only takes four Justices to vote to grant Cert as in agree the Court should hear a given case. However it takes FIVE to grant a stay which is what this Court has done. What I think isn’t getting adequate attention is the fact that for appellate judges (and that includes SCOTUS) to grant a stay there has to be belief the petitioner has an argument that will win on appeal! Translated that means at least five of the current Justices are saying in effect: Well, he’s got a pretty good case, at least on the immunity part. Even WE can accept the double-jeopardy half of the appeal so that’s rejected and done with BUT we think the immunity portion is at least partially in his favor.

That folks should scare the hell out of all of us.  I think, even if she didn’t say it yesterday since I’ve heard her make the point with Trump’s appeals up in New York Rubin was thinking when she spoke just after the announcement. Basically she was likely thinking: OMFG – there are at least five who think Trump has a good case!  No wonder she did actually blurt out she was terrified.

I know this has gotten long but there’s one last point I want to make. There are six GOP appointed Justices – all of whom have been staunch Federalist Society members from early on and in some cases started back when they were still in school. That’s not the worst of it though. Only one, Clarence Thomas was appointed by a President who actually won the popular vote. Bush 43 lost to Gore by a half-million votes. That means five SCOTUS judges allowed him to win Florida’s electoral votes and therefore the Presidency by roughly six hundred votes which was the margin when the counting was stopped. Gore got virtually one-thousand times the number of votes that decided the election for Bush. Worse if one feels it really was the five SCOTUS votes.

However, because Bush got into the Presidency we wound up with Chief Justice John Roberts and Samuel Alito. Trump as you know lost to Hillary in 2016 by way the hell over two million votes. (Closer to three million) and wound up, thanks to Mitch McConnell getting three picks in four years which as you know were Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett and there went Roe v Wade.

Oh, and experts wrung their hands but prior to the leaking of what would turn out to be the actual decision the Court didn’t simply take a meat cleaver to abortion rights instead of the “scalpel” approach that had been standard practice before, they overturned Roe. Surely they wouldn’t fully overturn Roe the experts said. At least until the draft opinion was leaked.  Even then many thought the Court would walk that back and come up with just a whack at Roe. Say a ban after twelve or sixteen weeks (what Roberts wanted) but they wouldn’t actually go through with a full overturning of precedent. But of course THEY DID!

That’s why I say I have no faith at all THIS group of Federalist Society groomed zealots will follow the law, precedent and norms. If they want to bail Trump out they will, even if they have to bring in supertankers full of not oil but steaming hot, toxic bullshit to create a special Trump “right” out of nothing.

The ONLY thing we can do is spend this year making our 2020 turnout look lame. To blow the doors off even that performance. To retain not only the WH, but retake the House with a huge margin, and gain enough seats in the Senate to scare the living hell out of Republicans. Make them more scared of us and voters than of Trump and MAGA. Then perhaps we can pass meaningful reforms. Including a law forcing SCOTUS to abide by the same ethics rules they demand every other federal judge follow. And, even more importantly expand the number of Justices. There are eleven Circuits so in my mind there should be at least that many Justices. I actually think at least one and perhaps more Circuits need to be split up into smaller ones. That would mean a whole slew of new judges (something Roberts himself has been calling for his entire tenure) and even more Justices using the “one for every Circuit” rule.

But first things first. Expect this Supreme Court Of Trump’s Ugly/United MAGAs to do the WRONG thing. Then f**king overwhelm them and the GOP in November. From the WH down through the Senate and House and on down to the state level. Vote so many GOPers out that what’s left will as I said get over their fear of MAGA.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. “But however close we sometimes seem to that dark and final abyss, let no man of peace and freedom despair. For he does not stand alone.”
    John F. Kennedy

  2. Glad you and Murf had that beer!

    I think Alito’s decision will invoke pre-Magna Charta rights of kings, but what do I know? My reasoning?: Look, England is a democracy and still has a King, so what’s the problem?

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